This story about a man that loses a bet on New Year's Eve and has to fuck a hole in a hole on the rooftop of a seedy nightclub, where he finds his ex-fiancé fucking the same hole on the other side of the wall, was recorded live on May 10, 2017 at Prozak Kafeneio.
It's been about two years since this piece was accepted, but Richard Peabody's mammoth two-volume 40th Anniversary Issue has finally hit the press. Peabody has been publishing Gargoyle in Washington DC since 1976, without hiatus. He'll finally be taking one this year. I hope the NEA is around when he gets back. Which is a good reason to get your copy of Gargoyle today.
Maybe the $20 price tag is slowing you down?
Here are 5 good reasons to whip out your wallet:
1. Gargoyle's home is Washington DC, where Donald Trump is now based when he's not in New York City. Gargoyle is everything Donald Trump is not.
2. Issue #65 is huge. You get a lot of quality offbeat writing for $20.
3. Look at that stunning cover by Julia Geiser!
4. You can buy your copy directly from Gargoyle, bypassing Amazon, another entrenched and corrupt media presence.
5. Inside, you'll find at least one story (categorized as non-fiction) dealing with all the following pressing issues: the boulder scene from Effren C. Piñon's 1983 classic The Killing of Satan, pupu platters and tinnitus, death by scrotal ring explosion and extended families who permanently disappear inside refrigerator box death traps.
Flash Fiction from Open Mic 10 at Prozak Kafeneio in Nicosia March 21, 2017
I was drinking Pisco at The False Door on Wilshire Boulevard when this guy walks in. He had long hair, like Jesus, but he was a little more disheveled and needy-looking. He took the stool to my right. I hated when they did that.
He immediately launched into his spiel. It was his wife. He suspected foul play. He had this theory, see, that she was cheating on him with Eddie Murphy’s bodyguard. Murphy’s old body guard. The bodyguard, in other words, that was no longer Eddie Murphy’s bodyguard. I wondered about this.
I said, “You look familiar.”
He took his sunglasses off.
It was Chris Pine, the actor.
I said, “You’re sure she’s with this guy?”
This is what I did for a living. I took money from deadbeats and sometimes found their errant wives. Other times, I changed addresses.
I quoted Pine my rates. Fifty dollars an hour plus expenses. Plus gas money. Plus my Pisco.
Pine paid for seven days up front, like I was a seaside rental property.
“You want pictures?” I said.
I didn’t have a camera, but I had to ask this.
Pine shook his long greasy hair.
It was then that I noticed the tattoo on his left thumb.
“Nice name,” I said. “Have you got an address?”
Sometimes my clients had unique situations. Like Marlona Pine. Here was the wife of a loaded Hollywood star and she was still working as a crossing guard in Malibu. I didn’t even know they had crossing guards in Malibu.
She was your typical trophy wife. Blond. Stiff as the folding chair she was sitting on. Unnaturally tanned flesh glistening like an oiled bannister. She was the sedentary type all right. I watched her for a solid hour and she didn’t so much as re-cross her legs.
At four o’clock in the afternoon, her backdoor man, Murphy’s old bodyguard, carried her from the chair to a van parked next to the crosswalk. He sure took his time inside.
I made a note for Pine: amorous relations in back of van likely. Better that he heard it from me than from some vindictive Hollywood producer.
I tailed them all the way back to Pine’s treehouse.
It was a two-story job high up in some oaks in back of the DiCaprio property. Leonardo was outside duck hunting in his pajamas. I waved. I’d done some work for Leo back in the day. I’d had a camera at the time.
Same procedure at the treehouse. Mrs. Pine lifted from van to elevator, from elevator to window-facing Eames chair. She sat there watching the sun set like a wax dummy.
I stuck around for a few more hours, until the bodyguard left and it was starting to get dark. At nine o’clock I left.
It was the same routine the next day and the day after that.
To each his own.
My grandfather loved barbers who didn’t talk. Pine loved women who didn’t move.
Even I’ll admit: there was something about Marlona Pine. The statuesque legs, the catwalk hips. The perfect coif. The oiled elbows.
No, she was an angel alright. The longer I watched her, the more I understood Pine. The more I understood Pine, the more I coveted what he had.
Or didn’t have.
All I needed to do was shake down a camera, catch her at it with Murphy’s bodyguard and they’d be through. Then I’d get my chance. Maybe the cancerous LA sun had finally eaten through my cranial pan, but I honestly thought I had a shot.
Then, on day four, she never showed up.
I was billing Pine for gas money but I didn’t even own a car. I rode the bus to the treehouse. The temperature was up in the high 90s and I was sweating like a pig when I arrived at three in the afternoon.
I craned my head up at the bay window where Marlona Pine usually sat. She was lying on the faux polar bear rug and it didn’t look like she could get back up. My first thought? Heat stroke.
I rode the elevator up.
In the living room, I looked around for evidence of Tanqueray or piña colada abuse. There was a dusty ice bucket on the dining table but that was it.
I said, “I’ll call the ambulance.”
I figured that would wake her up.
“I’ve got it all on camera,” I went on. “You and Murphy’s bodyguard.”
It was a lie, but it was plausible.
“I love you,” I said.
That happened to be the truth, and it had absolutely no effect on Marlona Pine.
I noticed then that Mrs. Pine’s left ankle was unusually sweaty today. I noticed, too, that half of her left foot had melted off. Her lips were lying in a puddle of cheek on the hardwood floor and her nose had slid off onto her tongue.
I got hold of the wig and pulled.
Good God. Pine, the sad sack, had fallen for a wax dummy.
I knew I had a choice to make, and looking back, I’m not proud of it. But if I couldn’t have Marlona Pine, nobody would.
I filled the ice bucket with Porfidio Anejo and drank straight tequila as Marlona Pine melted away in the worst of the LA heat. When she was malleable enough, I rolled her into a ball. I called DiCaprio. He owed me a favor or two.
Back at the False Door, Pine had cut his hair and shaved. He looked halfway respectable today. I ordered him his usual, a French Toast and Bailey’s.
“She ran off on you,” I said.
Pine wept into his Bailey’s.
“If it’s any consolation,” I said. “She wasn’t fucking Murphy’s man.”
That I wasn’t sure about, but it sounded plausible.
“I’ll see you again some time,” I said. I finished my Pisco and collected my expense money. I took the whole wad and bought two single fares to Barbados, where I knew they had no extradition for wax dummies. I swung by DiCaprio’s and gathered Marlona Pine’s earthly remains and rolled them into a semblance of a human being and took a cab to LAX.
I made it past US border security without a hitch. We tied the knot in Saint James Parish and spent our honeymoon at the Sundowners Club in Holetown. A week later she left me. I suspect she ran off with the bellhop, but I don’t carry a camera anymore so I can’t prove a thing.
If you ever pick a fight with a writer, you should always remember, the writer will get the last word.
Man walks into a bar and sits down next to a Donald Trump supporter and doesn’t realize it.
There are three punch lines to this joke. You pick the one you like best.
1) Man and Trump supporter shake hands and agree to disagree. They get up and share a dance. They’re cheek to cheek. The jukebox is playing Patsy Cline. They realize how beautiful the world can be if you just listen to the other guy. Trump supporter agrees that two men dancing is no big deal. The next day Trump supporter proposes via Twitter. Man accepts. They get hitched that Sunday at a civil service in Holetown, Barbados. In Barbados the Trump supporter can take his 44 into the courtroom.
2) Man says nothing and Trump supporter says nothing. They both silently seethe, wondering where the fuck the neighborhood went.
3) Man tells a joke about Donald Trump that enrages Trump supporter. Trump supporter is visibly shaken. Man is looking around for a bouncer, wondering if Trump supporter is packing heat. There’s some intense eye contact. Somehow a date is trapped in the middle on this. She isn’t getting all of it but can sense the trouble like a feral dog.
Trump supporter’s teeth are just about bared now. Man expects he’s going to pull off his face to reveal a Trump mask underneath, and underneath that an intergalactic bounty hunter with three sets of teeth sent from the future by the Elders of Zion.
Underneath that? Underneath that is just tendons and glistening arterial blood smoking like offal. (We’re on Mars and the ambient air is actually chilly, not hot.)
Trump supporter stands. Man stands. Instead of dancing, they rip off each other’s testicles and parade them about the barroom for the benefit of mankind.
Did I mention that the kitchen was on fire? It’s true, the kitchen’s on fire. The bar burns to the ground.
So let’s just agree to disagree, right?
Let me backtrack.
It's 2000. Y2K. The year when, as an office temp in a foundering two-man real estate operation in Urbana-Champaign, IL, my boss was preparing for the information apocalypse the banks had promised us.
(My boss also owned a Pitney-Bowes postage meter so he could issue his own stamps like the Vatican, and a Harley Davidson hog. The hog had collapsed on him at the Schnuck’s a week before he’d hired me, crushing his left leg.)
We survived the apocalypse, but I couldn’t stand that postage meter and left a few weeks later for Austin, Texas, just in time to see George Walker Bush get elected president.
People liked Bush. He was the kind of guy you could drink a beer with. Which meant that when the Towers dropped a year later, he got to sit there in front of a live camera in a kids’ classroom in Sarasota, Florida, silently chewing on his lower lip like a lawn jockey momentarily gifted with human life. There was no bartender in sight.
Thinking back, if I could write that list all over again—the one where “the kind of guy you could drink a beer with” was at the very top of presidential qualities, I’d probably move it to somewhere near the very bottom.
I don’t think anyone would miss it.
Because explaining to a voting adult why having a good drinking buddy for a president isn’t important is a little like explaining to a grieving widow why it’s better to bury dead bodies, rather than leave them in their beds to molder away in their own good time.
They should get it.
Which, I guess, is why I didn’t feel the need to explain to the Trump supporter at the bar, 16 years later, why I hated Donald J. Trump.
(Yes, that man in the joke was me and it wasn't a joke.)
Explaining why I hated Trump would have been worse than explaining why I didn’t like Bush. It would have been like explaining why a lapful of vomit stank. Or maybe even better, a lapful of plastic vomit studded with artificial vomit fragrance beads.
But I think I owed him my two cents in retrospect, which happens to be the part in this story where the Trump supporter disappears and I get the last word.
THE PUNCHLINE, OR 10 REASONS WHY DONALD J. TRUMP WOULD MAKE A SHITTY DRINKING BUDDY
1. HE’D ONLY TALK ABOUT HIMSELF
If you saw Andrew Boyton’s copyediting job of Trump’s Black History Month speech, you saw the only president in history open such a speech by talking about his own election results. Now, most liberals can smell the vomit already. If you’re a conservative, let me put this into perspective.
Walking into a Black History Month press conference and talking about your election results would be like walking into a church and pissing in the donation cup, toasting the Anti-Christ and lining the pastor’s bookshelves with copies of R. Crumb’s Illustrated Bible.
It would be like me coming into your house and loading all your semi-automatic rifles with pink Minnie Mouse pez and installing a special mechanism that allowed you to shoot them only once a year on Gay Pride Day, to celebrate diversity.
2. HE’D LIE, BUT NOT IN A CLEVER OR ENTERTAINING WAY
Donald Trump can’t separate truth from fiction, the hallmark of any entertaining liar. In writing we call this hyperbole, but we never confuse the one for the other. Trump is the kind of guy who would tell you he slept with your waitress—even if she was dead.
He’d tell you he’d slept with her and the sex was so good that it had killed her. But she’d liked it so much that the orgasm had brought her back to life again, and she’d gotten her job back.
But he’d had to fire her sadly—it isn’t his bar—and then she’d gotten hit by a bus. So sad.
3. HE WOULD NEVER OFFER TO PAY THE TAB
Trump’s legendary stinginess is well documented. In the president’s defense, it’s also well known that a man of his stature and economic finesse only carries plastic. This habit stretches all the way back to the 80s when cash was still cash. Part of the reason, admittedly, is that a credit card makes a tiny palm look bigger. It streamlines finger stubbiness too when situated in the classic “in between the pointer and middle finger” pose and extended. But still, Trump is clearly the kind of wheeler dealer who, even if he the had cash, would see if he could get you to pay the tab first. Solid business strategy. Even Vladimir Putin covers their tabs when dining with Trump at KFC.
4. HE WOULD CONSTANTLY BE CHECKING HIS TWITTER FEED, AND MAYBE TWEETING
Honest one-on-one beer talk involves two human beings and two beers. Trump would have his phone on the table. It would be the third wheel. Just when you’d gotten into the rhythm of your story, Trump, doing his God-honest best to focus and empathize, would notice out of the corner of his eye a negative tweet by, say, Rihanna, and instantly rocket back a defense. It would derail your conversation, and keep happening over and over again, until the bill came and Trump tried to get you to pay it.
5. HE WOULD HUMILIATE THE BARTENDER IF HE DIDN’T SERVE HIM FIRST
It’s not always easy to be seen at a bar, especially if your fists are small and don’t make for good homing devices. For Trump this would be disgraceful and catastrophic. He’d definitely make a comment about it, a loud one, drawing pained glances he would confuse for camaraderie and like-mindedness. He’d make a few more comments about his plight, just as loud, until the bartender brought his drink, insulated by a nearly invisible layer of sputum and pilled hand sweat.
Back at the table, licking the whisky and spit off his lips, Trump would message Jeff Sessions, asking if there was any way to get the bartender fired.
After Sessions gave the president the green light on the firing (and a possible follow-up SWAT raid), Trump would see if there was any way to get the bartender’s family fired, whatever jobs they did.
Sessions would promise to look into it. Trump, still fuming, would rocket off another tweet along the lines of: REFUSED WHISKY AT A BAR I OWN! [LIE] EMBARASSING FOR THE USA!
6. HE MIGHT GRAB YOUR WAITRESS BY THE PUSSY
I’ve only been grabbed by the cock once. At Mardi Gras about 15 years ago. I didn’t like it at all. My wife didn’t like it either. No one really liked it.
7. HE WOULD MAKE POOR, CONFUSED AND BLUSTERY DRINKS DECISIONS THAT WOULD END IN CATASTROPHE
Drinks lists can get complicated in the heyday of mixology. Trump, a take-action leader, would insist on ordering quickly and efficiently. If they didn’t have his brand, he’d take it personally and call out the manager. When the manager pointed out that they did in fact carry Trump’s brand—Trump had been looking at the appetizers list apparently, not the drinks list—Trump would retreat into a defensive crouch.
Jeff Sessions is always a phone call away.
But, wait, hadn’t he already fired the manager? Sessions assures him it was the bartender and the bartender’s family he’d fired.
In the meantime, the actor Chris Pine has made a suspicious tweet. Trump goes for the jugular. ANOTHER LIBERAL ACTOR SAYS I SLEPT WITH A PANDA BEAR! SIMPLY NOT TRUE!
When his drink comes, he has no idea where he is or what he’s doing. Hyperventilating, he pours his whisky over his head and lights his hair on fire.
8. YOU MIGHT END UP DRINKING WITH SEAN SPICER
When you’re drinking at a bar with a drinking buddy, you never know who your buddy will bring along. You could be sitting there talking to Trump and out of the blue Sean Spicer walks in. It’s awkward. You don’t want to be sitting there with Spicer, but Spicer is friends with Trump. When Trump asks Spicer to massage his left foot, just like Larry King once did for Marlon Brando, you’ll have to pretend to be “in on the joke.”
It gets worse.
Away from the podium, where his self-control is at a maximum, Spicer has been known to spontaneously erupt into Old MacDonald, singing all the parts using different personalities, registers and languages for each. An avid tweeter, he will also likely be tweeting from his secret drinking handle Captain Crunch.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for Spicer’s drinks too.
9. IN THE WRONG LIGHTING, HIS BRIGHT ORANGE SKIN AND BRITTLE WISPS OF HAIR COULD BE DISTRACTING
Trump’s pigment is designed for high-impact spotlights. When bathed in warmer barroom notes, his Florida tan becomes a Lynchian shade of orange and his lips the color of whitewall tires. To avoid his face, your eyes will wander up his scalp, which, in the overhead lighting, will reveal itself to be a solid gold plate embedded with the teeth, ears and noses of all his business conquests.
10. HE MIGHT TRY TO BAN YOU FROM THE BAR
In a last-ditch effort to gain your respect and friendship, Trump may simply ban you from the bar. It will happen like this.
First, he’ll restrict your drink options, ordering you a shrimp scampi, which he will claim is the best in Miami. (You’re in Kansas City, at one of Trump’s brand new HUD golf courses.) Then he’ll invite Sean Spicer to sit next to you on your left. Ben Carson (actually Sean Spicer doing his celebrated Ben Carson impersonation) will then sit to your right, squeezing you in. You’re now surrounded by Spicers.
At this point, Trump will grab your waitress’s pussy, but the joke will actually be on her. She’s dead! So sad. By the time the official papers come and you’re actually banned from the bar, Trump will be long gone and the tab unpaid. In his wake, a single tweet: FEEL MUCH SAFER DRINKING BY MYSELF! SHOULD HAVE TRIED THIS YEARS AGO!